Jordan Cooper Named SEC Freshman of the Week
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- After tossing a career-best 6.2 innings and striking out a career-high five in just his third career conference start, Kentucky freshman right-handed pitcher Jordan Cooper has been named Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week, it was announced by the league office Monday afternoon.
A native of Shelbyville, Tenn., Cooper turned in a gutsy performance in helping UK pick up a series-evening win over No. 4 South Carolina, a team that entered the weekend ranked atop the SEC standings. After UK had dropped the series opener Friday night to the high-octane Gamecocks and with its back against the wall entering Saturday, UK turned to Cooper for his third career league start and his sixth career start.
Cooper, a 6-foot-3, 205-pounder, responded to shut down the Gamecocks, going a career-long 6.2 innings and setting a new career-high with five strikeouts, helping UK even the series and set the stage for a series-clinching win Sunday, to vault UK back into postseason contention. In his 6.2 innings, Cooper allowed only four hits and one run, helping UK to its second series win over a ranked team this season, handing USC its first series loss in 10 SEC weekends, dating back to 2009. Cooper outdueled South Carolina junior standout Sam Dyson, with both starters combining to throw four consecutive scoreless innings to start the game, before Cooper allowed a solo homer in the top of the fifth for USC to take the first lead of the game. After allowing the single run, UK plated two in the bottom of the fifth to take the lead, with Cooper tossing the top of the sixth and getting two outs in the top of the seventh to set the stage for closer Matt Little to finish off the game for his seventh save of the season.
In his six starts the season, Cooper owns a 2.49 ERA. All told in his freshman campaign, Cooper – a 17th round MLB Draft pick in 2009 by the Pittsburg Pirates – has posted a 3-4 record and a 5.11 ERA in 49.1 innings, striking out 30.
UK will return to action with a midweek game Tuesday at Indiana in Bloomington, Ind., with first pitch slated for 4 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, detailing the action. On Wednesday, UK will host Lipscomb at 6:30 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium in the final non-conference home game of the season. UK will welcome the defending national champion LSU Tigers (34-15, 12-12 SEC) for a three-game series beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium.